Big tech jumps in Carbon capture & reforestation. Have you applied to join Atlas Society yet?

The richest tech people are obsessed with climate change. Apple launch $200m fund for reforestation. Facebook become Carbon Negative. A Oil company become 100% Carbon Neutral by buying carbon credits.

Hi, I’m Djoann Fal. I convene The Adaptive Economy by Atlas, a data-driven, positive, and most importantly solution-based business newsletter to help us understand how our lives, societies, and political economy will change under the force of rapidly changing climate and technology innovation. Congratulations, you are now among the 7000+ forward-thinking business leaders staying ahead of the curve by knowing in which industry to dedicate your time, money, and assets as you enter the 4th industrial era. This week, we look at the news.

“Reforesting 133 Million Acres Could Absorb Carbon Emissions equivalent to 72 Million Cars” Nature.org

Really?

In January, Occidental Petroleum announced it had accomplished something no oil company had done before: It sold a shipload of crude that it said was 100% carbon-neutral.

While the two-million-barrel cargo to India was destined to produce more than a million tons of planet-warming carbon over its lifecycle, from well to tailpipe, the Texas-based driller said it had completely offset that impact by purchasing carbon credits.

Such credits are financial instruments generated by projects that reduce or avert greenhouse-gas emissions such as mass tree plantings or solar power farms. The projects’ owners can sell the credits to polluting companies, who then use them to make claims of offsetting their carbon emissions.

This week, Facebook has announced to CBS News that they reached a key environmental goal early: The social media company now purchases enough renewable energy to run all of its operations around the world.

Today, Apple announced to launch its first-ever $200 million Restore Fund to accelerate natural solutions to climate change. This effort is part of Apple’s broader goal to become carbon neutral across its entire value chain by 2030. While the company will directly eliminate 75 percent of emissions for its supply chain and products by 2030, the fund will help address the remaining 25 percent of Apple’s emissions by removing carbon from the atmosphere. 

In January, Tesla CEO Musk pledged to invest $100 million in new carbon capture technologies. Carbon capture is the process of trapping waste carbon dioxide either directly from the air, or just before it gets emitted from factories and power plants.

Musk’s stance on climate change is complicated, however. While he runs a relatively green electric vehicle company, he has also been criticized for his love of bitcoin, which is now one of the world’s biggest CO2 emitters. 

In his new book “How to avoid a climate disaster,” Gates doesn’t seem to be convinced that trees are worth investing in.

“It has obvious appeal for those of us who love trees, but it opens up a very complicated subject … its effect on climate change appears to be overblown,” he writes.

In recent months, Bill Gates’ name has made headlines in all sorts of contexts. This month, Microsoft’s co-founder made ripples again with the release of his latest book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need”. 

On 272 pages, Gates describes the need for renewable energy technologies and the benefits that come with innovation, suggesting how nations could speed up their shift away from fossil fuels. As examples, he cites high carbon prices and new green energy standards. Furthermore, he calls on governments to implement a fivefold increase in their funding for research on renewable energy.

Gates argues that the most effective reforestation strategy is to stop cutting down so many of the trees we already have and says that “you’d need somewhere around 50 acres’ worth of trees planted in tropical areas to absorb the emissions produced by an average American in their lifetime.”

Elsewhere, Bezos created the $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund last February to provide financial support to scientists, non-governmental organizations, activists and the private sector.

So far, the Bezos Earth Fund has issued grants to several organizations that focus on reforestation including Eden Reforestation Projects, The Nature Conservancy, and The Natural Resources Defense Council.

Amazon, however, has been criticized for increasing pollution with its planes and vans, and for using excessive amounts of cardboard when packaging its products. Amazon says that its packaging is 100% renewable and that it doesn’t use plastic clamshells and wire ties.

So, what’s going on?

Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is fast becoming an essential tool in the race to decarbonize coal and gas-fired power plants and heavy industry applications. CCUS prevents CO2 emissions from these processes reaching the atmosphere. Once captured, the carbon is either used as a resource or securely stored deep underground.  

Although still in its early stages, CCUS could potentially capture a third of all industrial emissions by 2040. But to realize this opportunity, policymakers, investors and the energy sector need to develop a framework for the technology to scale-up and take off.

Today, there are 51 projects worldwide. Of these, 19 are operational, 4 more are under construction and 28 are at the planning and development stage. Most of the world’s carbon capture currently takes place in North America, including the Century Plant in Texas, which is the largest single industrial source CO2 capture facility in the world.

Reforestation could be the solution to climate, food productivity, water regulation and biodiversity problems we’ve been facing. Although many countries, businesses and individuals have caught on to the importance of reforestation, there’s still not enough awareness and action to make a noticeable difference.

In 2015, more than 120 countries promised to plant and restore large areas of forests and the UN set targets to restore 350m hectares by 2030 — an area larger than India as a response to the climate crisis, but that number doesn’t even close to cut it. The question now becomes how we can inspire people, businesses and countries around the world to race to restore the rainforests.

Carbon credits have long been a strategy by major corporations to balance their carbon footprint. They’ve been responsible for success stories such as our sister company, Infinite Earth, who helps to protect and preserve Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve. The reserve provides, preserves, and protects 65,000 hectares of peat swamp forest and has helped mitigate over 100 tons of Co2 from the atmosphere.

In 2020, China announced a 40-Year, Billion-Tree Project and already had success with adding trees and green spaces to its rapidly constructed cities. Since 2004, about 170 cities have launched “forest city” campaigns designed to green urban areas and curb pollution. Each city has added an average of 13,000 hectares of parks or woods per year. In the new town of Xiong’an, for instance, 130 kilometers (80.8 miles) southwest of Beijing, a program called the Millennium Forest endorsed by President Xi Jinping mixes more than 100 types of trees. This autumn, 3,600 hectares of saplings will be added. The plan is to cover 40% of China’s urban land with trees and green spaces in 7 out of 10 cities by the end of the decade.

In the next coming weeks we will share some interviews of people working in Carbon Capture and Reforestations on our Youtube Channel!

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